Taking Pictures vs Creating Portraits

by Douglas Hoffman on May 11, 2021

When I am at the beach with my dog visitors to Maui, frequently come over and take pictures. Maybe they miss their dog, or they think its cool that Dusty (my dog), wears a rash guard. Well, long story short about Dusty, he has skin cancer and the only way he can enjoy the beach is to protect his skin.

More to the point of this post, is the manner in which people take pictures. In simple terms, the visitors liked what they saw and took a picture of it. They captured a moment in time that documented something. Very little thought was given however to the technical elements, composition, or lighting.

Creating a portrait, rather than taking a picture, requires a different mindset. There is a process in which attention is given to the technical and artistic elements and consideration or weight is given to certain components that the image maker wants to emphasize.

For me it starts with look looking at the location. I want to see what the topography is like and get a feel for scene. I will walk around and start visualizing what kind of portraits I could create based on the conditions, light, weather, foreground, mid-ground, and background. Once I see a scene in my minds eye, I think about how to create that technically. Will I need to use diffusion or graduated filters to manage the light, what camera height might best produce the perspective I want to present, desired depth of field and motion within the portrait. With all this in mind by the time I have the tripod out and camera mounted, I know exactly what I want to do.

Waters edge

Going through the steps of creation rather than taking produces images that evoke an emotional response and gather interest from the viewer. See more beautiful photography here

If interested in learning more about exposure, managing light, composition, consider a private workshop.